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Israeli article on the sanctions

Dear friends,

Here's an important "addendum" to the news digest posted by Colin a few
days ago (Thank you Colin!) : "Going through the motions of sanctioning
Iraq," Ha'aretz (Israel), August 2. This article was published today in
Israel's mainstream press (Ha'aretz)

Here's a mainstream Israeli article expressing the "ineffectiveness" of
the sanctions policy on Iraq; this is an important occurrence in and of
itself.  Perhaps, next, Ha'aretz can write about how "effectively" this
policy destroys the lives of the Iraqi people.

Note the last paragraph of the article: "However, what concerns the United
States and Britain more than the Arab >approach to Iraq is the lack of
information about the Russian president's >expected policy on Iraq. If
Vladimir Putin decides to resume full ties with >Iraq, as he has already
hinted in several statements, the sanctions will no >longer be worth the
paper on which they are written."

Here's Putin contact information -- :-)
        President Vladimir Putin
        The Kremlin
        Moscow, Russia

- Rania Masri

Going through the motions of sanctioning Iraq
By Zvi Bar'el, Ha'aretz. August 2, 2000

This Saturday, a surprising visitor arrived in Baghdad. Scott Ritter, the
most famous supervisor in the UN monitoring team investigating Iraq's
arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, arrived, this time equipped with a
movie camera. Ritter plans to film a documentary in Iraq about nuclear,
chemical and biological sites and the huge damage the sanctions have caused
Iraqi citizens. An Iraqi businessman, Shaker Alhafaji, who now lives abroad,
is financing the film production and has already opened a bank account for
it with $400,000. He will also accompany Ritter throughout the entire
filming. In an interview with the Washington Post, Ritter said he plans to
show the dark side of the war and attempt to rid Iraq of its title of "the
bad guy" of the Middle East.Today is the tenth anniversary of the Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait. Many of those involved in the invasion and in the Gulf
War, which started around six months later, have switched careers, left
their jobs, published books, moved to research institutes or died. Saddam
Hussein is still in the same place. He continues to run Iraq and the
relationship between him and the world seems as if it is as it has always
been. Occasionally, television stations feature brief reports on life in
Iraq; but the international press has almost totally lost interest in what
is happening in Iraq and news coverage in the Arab countries focuses
primarily on the political aspect and Iraq's attempts to obtain the help of
Arab countries in its struggle to have the sanctions lifted. A UN report
does indeed indicate that since the war, the infant mortality rate in Iraq
has doubled, and Iraq reports that over a million and a quarter people have
died of illness and starvation as a result of the sanctions, but these
reports do not impress the decision makers. The sanctions which were
originally intended to pressure Saddam to change his policy and later fed
the illusion that through them it would be possible to spark public pressure
in Iraq that would bring down the regime, have over the years become a tool
of revenge and symbol of unfulfilled political aspirations. Operation 'Cup
of Tea' Ritter's appearance in Baghdad, perhaps more than anything else,
symbolizes the uselessness of the anti-Iraq policy. Ritter became famous
when he loudly resigned from his post as a supervisor because he felt the UN
and the United States were not determined enough and might therefore cause
Saddam to resume development of his non-conventional weapons. In a series of
interviews and lectures that he began immediately after his resignation,
Ritter related that decisions and orders that he received from his overseers
expressed weakness, loss of direction and almost a lack of desire to
actually achieve the goals of the UN monitoring.

He disclosed the huge obstacles that Saddam's officials and soldiers placed
in front of the UN monitoring team. Ritter demanded more forceful
supervision and was one of the most creative minds trying to get around
Saddam's obstruction techniques. At the same time, he also revealed the link
between the UN supervisors and American intelligence and accused his
superior, the head of the observer delegation, Richard Butler, of installing
monitoring devices meant to relay information about what was happening at
the sites directly to American intelligence. Butler vehemently denied the
existence of any such link.

The CIA was not alone in its contacts with the delegation of UN supervisors.
According to Ritter's statements in an interview with the New Yorker, Israel
took upon itself the task of analyzing aerial photos taken by an American
spy satellite that was used by the UN delegation. Later on, Ritter wrote
that "I started asking (the Israelis) more specific questions and they put
me in touch with their analysts. Now it was no longer just a matter of
analyzing photos. I was receiving access to the Israeli intelligence
community." A bulletin of nuclear science reported that Israel had in effect
set up a cooperation unit, referred to as "the green headquarters," headed
by Yaakov Amidror, which worked across from the headquarters of the UN
supervisory delegation in New York. These offices, Ritter's remarks
indicate, planned several operations together, including the last operation
in Romania, known as Operation Cup of Tea, which was meant to prevent the
acquisition of components in Romania.

Ritter was unable to obtain hard evidence that could prove the UN
delegation's claim that Iraq was continuing its illegal activities to
develop long-range missiles. The reason is apparently that Israel refused to
divulge some of the information in order not to harm its sources and reveal
its methods of operation. At a certain point, Ritter was suspected of
relaying confidential American information to Israel and CIA investigators
were even on the verge of charging him with spying for Israel. Ritter
relates that he felt that the head of the CIA's Middle East desk started
treating him as a competitor because of his close ties with Israel.

This week, prior to his arrival in Iraq, Ritter said that Butler's attacks
on Iraq and his charges that it was supposedly developing new weapons
systems were unfounded. Iraq, Ritter stated, does not have the ability to
develop such weapons in its current circumstances. The film he is about to
produce is meant to prove these claims.

The monitoring of Iraq and the sanctions have become two sides of the same
policy. The official policy, which was formulated primarily by the United
States and Britain, established that sanctions were meant to ensure that the
supervision was carried out. According to the UN decision that imposed the
sanctions, it will be possible to lift the sanctions only after the summary
report is received showing that Iraq has destroyed all of the prohibited
weapons and that it does not have the means to resume production. Such a
report was nearly released in 1995 by the head of the supervisors, Rolf
Eckaus, but just before the designated release date, Saddam's sons-in-law
and brother-in-law defected to Jordan. They had been responsible for defense
acquisitions and weapons development, and presented Eckaus with a mountain
of documents and information about hiding places for prohibited materials
and weapons development sites. In this case as well, the sanctions did not
help to uncover the secret, rather it was the twisted and threatening family
ties Saddam maintained.

However, in the last two years, it turns out that the sanctions have notbeen
doing their job. Since the supervision stopped unofficially, when Saddam did
not allow supervisors to do their jobs, and since they left Iraq over a year
and a half ago, there has in effect been no supervision of suspected sites
in Iraq and there are no findings to prove or disprove the existence of
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Richard Butler, who visited Israel
three weeks ago, did, however, determine that Iraq is developing long-range
missiles, but he could not present any proof of this. Scott Ritter, in
contrast to Butler, several days ago said that Butler was exaggerating in
his remarks about Iraqi capabilities. Ritter now suggests that instead of
checking the past and Iraq's inventory of weapons, it would be better to
look into Iraq's future capability and impose a supervisory system that will
prevent future development of weapons of mass destruction. Such a system,
Ritter believes, would lead to cooperation with Iraq and thereby bring about
an end to the era of sanctions that did not achieve their goal. In essence,
the current situation is that the sanctions are in effect even though there
is no supervision and at the moment, there is no way of forcing Saddam to
accept the supervision.

"Before the sanctions and the supervisory delegations, it was possible to
know more about what Iraq had," says an Israeli intelligence official.
"Today Iraq is a closed fortress, and most of the statements about its
military capability are based on speculation. But it is tough to find any
significant personality who would want to lift the sanctions on Iraq. It
seems to me that whoever imposed them hasn't yet let go of the illusion that
it will be possible to get rid of Saddam with them." Ten years after the
invasion of Kuwait, it seems that not only has the international coalition
which imposed the sanctions developed some serious cracks - in effect, the
sanctions continue to remain only because of the United States and Britain.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said this week that continuing the
sanctions is unacceptable and illogical from an Arab perspective. The
defense minister of Kuwait, the big victim of the Iraqi invasion, said that
Kuwait is willing to negotiate with Iraq, a statement that was however
denied by the spokesman of the emir of Kuwait, albeit not very vehemently.
Jordan is also more loudly voicing its support for an end to the sanctions,
its professional unions are working feverishly to change Arab policy toward
Iraq. Saudi Arabia would be willing to work out an arrangement with Iraq,
provided that Kuwait agrees. Syria has already opened many of its gates to
Iraq and Iraqi public figures have traded Amman for Damascus as their port
of exit abroad.

However, what concerns the United States and Britain more than the Arab
approach to Iraq is the lack of information about the Russian president's
expected policy on Iraq. If Vladimir Putin decides to resume full ties with
Iraq, as he has already hinted in several statements, the sanctions will no
longer be worth the paper on which they are written

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